Goossen Hoenders - EU Programme Manager for Save the Children NL
Goossen Hoenders graduated from the University of Groningen in 2002. Currently he is working as EU Programme Manager for Save the Children Netherlands. Save the Children is the biggest independent organization promoting children's rights.
Goossen is part of the Alumni-Mentor System. Do you have any questions for him, or would you like his advice? Ask your questions by filling in the sign-up form under "Alumni-Mentor System." What does your job entail? "I am EU programme manager for Save the Children NL mainly focusing on DG ECHO the European Commission’s Directorate-General for humanitarian aid and civil protection of the European Commission, and to a lesser extent on DG DEVCO, the Commission’s Directorate-General for international cooperation and development. As programme manager I’m responsible for the full project cycle, so trying to secure funding from ECHO and DEVCO for the project proposals submitted, monitoring progress and report on the implementation of the approved projects. The development of the proposals is done together with the colleagues in the countries we work in for example in Afghanistan. Recently I visited the colleagues there to assist in the final stages of the development of two proposals for ECHO, one on education in emergencies and the other one on health. The specific knowledge on the context and the thematic is provided by my colleagues in the country and my task is to ensure that the proposals are in line with the donor requirements and expectations. The latter include a.o. lessons learnt from other projects, number of beneficiaries that will be reached and geographical locations where we operate. Another part of my work consists of consultation and negotiations with colleagues from other European Save the Children member organisations concerning funding opportunities with the European Commission (both ECHO and DEVCO) to ensure the best positioned member can go for the opportunity and there is limited competition between members. I’m also part of the management group that provides the strategic steer and guidance for the cooperation between the European Save the Children members.
Besides my tasks as EU programme manager, I’m also the security coordinator for the organisation and the deputy head of the programme department. As security coordinator I monitor the security situation in the countries where we work, brief my colleagues before they travel and I’m on call 24/7 in case something happens. As deputy head of the programme department I’m representing the organisation in a number of steering groups including the aforementioned EU donor relations management group."
What are the biggest challenges in your job? "One of the biggest challenges is to make sure that we as Save the Children Netherlands are competitive enough. A couple of years ago the competition was not that stiff, but now the increased number of organisations applying for EU funding and the relatively limited amount of funding available, have made the field more competitive. Therefore the quality of the proposals needs to be excellent. With a good, solid proposal you might not be selected. The other challenge is shifting between operational and strategic tasks that stem from the many hats I wear."
What did IRIO teach you that you use often in your job? "IRIO teaches you to be a generalist. You learn how to process a lot of information in a short period of time, and to distil the essential and relevant information. You learn how to give a presentation, and how to write. You have knowledge about a lot of different topics, and if need be you delve into topics further by gathering more specific information. Besides my tasks as EU programme manager, I am also security coordinator and deputy head of the programme department. This means that I need to switch between operational and strategic tasks a lot, for which the aforementioned skills and the interdisciplinary approach of IRIO have proven to be really useful."
Was this the kind of job you imagined to have when you started studying IRIO? "No, not at that time, but it was the right step at the right time. My career started with an internship, within the framework of the master Network On Humanitarian Action (NOHA), at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the department of humanitarian aid. This department provides funding for humanitarian crises to UN organisations the Red Cross and NGO’s. After working as an intern I started as a policy officer with a temporary contract in the same department where I worked for about a year. Subsequently I was temporarily hired as policy officer in the department for peacebuilding and good governance before moving on to become a blue book trainee at DG ECHO in the European Commission. Working at these institutional donors entailed a.o. reviewing project proposals that were submitted by organisations like Save the Children. Successively I switched sides and started as a programme manager focusing on DG ECHO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
What advice would you give to yourself as a student? "Stay close to yourself and make the choices that suit you as a person. Look at what can help you to gain certain skills, outside of your study programme. Don’t get scared by the time pressure that you can feel. If you make choices that you fully support, this will be easier. Making choices is hard, but if you make a choice make sure that you fully go for it."